By Rob Lippolis, Corpus Christi IceRays
The Corpus Christi IceRays have named former Wenatchee Wild bench boss John Becanic the new head coach as the IceRays embark on the fourth season in the North American Hockey League.
"We have finally found our guy, after a lengthy process where more than 50 candidates applied,” said IceRays general manager Pat Dunn. “We shortened our list to five very good coaches and at the end John was the guy.”
Becanic has a full list of junior hockey experience in the Canadian Hockey League, American Western Hockey League, and even the North American Hockey League. The native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario won a Robertson Cup in the North American Hockey League in 2003 with the Pittsburgh Forge while also being named the Coach of the Year.
The coaching career began in 1992 as an assistant coach with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL. In 1993, Becanic was behind the bench as the Greyhounds won the Memorial Cup.
Becanic was impressed with not only the professionalism of the IceRays, but the crowd support as well. “After going through a very thorough process with Pat, I truly appreciate why so many people recommended both the program and Pat to me,” said Becanic. “His professionalism is recognized throughout NAHL and beyond, along with the fans of the IceRays. It is a tribute to the people of Corpus Christi and the surrounding area for their loyal support and enthusiasm that they inject into the players every night.”
After capturing the Robertson Cup in 2003, Becanic was named to the coaching staff of the Everett Silvertips in the WHL. After assisting for four years, the Silvertips promoted him to the head coaching post in 2007 when the squad won the WHL regular season championship. In two years he posted a total record of 66-66-12 in 144 games coached. In those two seasons, the Silvertips qualified for the playoffs but lost in round one.
It wasn’t just his experience that attracted the IceRays to Becanic, but his structure and who he coached with in the past as well. “I was truly impressed by his structure,” Dunn added. He also coached with some of the best coaches in the world. I truly believe that he will do a tremendous job for us. I could have picked any of the five guys remaining, and some quality guys did not make the short list. At the end of the day it all comes down to your gut feel.”
From 2009 – 2011, Becanic was the assistant coach for both the Seattle Thunderbirds and Vancouver Giants before landing back in the NAHL with the Wenatchee Wild for two seasons.
As the Wenatchee head coach, the veteran marched them into the playoffs with a 36-17-7 record before losing in round two. He thrives off of hard work and quick thinking. “The most important attribute for me as a coach is a willingness to work,” Becanic added. “There is no substitute for work and it’s something that every player will learn to embrace. The other attribute is the ability to think the game at a quick pace. The game is full of talented players and the game changes quickly. Players need to think quickly and adjust to the game. Play hard, Play smart, Play like a pro.”
Becanic becomes the third coach for the IceRays while members of the North American Hockey League. Former IceRays head coach Justin Quenneville, who stepped down earlier in the off-season had replaced Brent Hughes to start the 2011-2012 season.
“John and I hit it off and I believe that we will work well together,” Dunn finished by saying. “On behalf of the IceRays organization, we want to welcome John to the IceRays family. I also want to thank every coach that applied for the position. I tried to get back to everyone, but at one point you need to move forward and I may have not returned everyone's calls or emails, for that I apologize.”
The IceRays will kick off their 16th season in Corpus Christi in mid-September and Becanic knows improvement in a team starts from within. “. I'm not one for predictions. The South division is loaded with talented teams supported by good coaches. We want to improve and set goals together as a group. Our goals will be shared throughout the organization. The best way to improve our team is to improve ourselves.”